Aiken County residents urged to register for emergency alert notifications following dam leak

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / November 13, 2014

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- He is used to natural disasters.

"Earthquakes and fires and things like that," said David Junod. He came home from his job in California to the unexpected.

"When I came through I saw the road was closed," Junod said.

The dam sits blocks from his house where state officials were monitoring a leak.

Paul Matthews is with Aiken County Emergency Management. He said Junod would have already known about the breach, and any other emergency had he signed up for CodeRED.

"It's a mass emergency notification system. It's telephone based, and it's also via text and email," Matthews said.

He said people can go to the county government's website, click on the CodeRED logo, put in their personal information including cellphone number and carrier, and submit. In just a few minutes they will get an automated message confirming their registration.

You can set preferences that include being notified for floods, fires, and other national disasters.

According to 2010 census data, about 160,000 people live in Aiken County. About 60,000 are getting those alerts, meaning more than half of the people will not get county warnings in an emergency. Matthews said since the dam leak on Wednesday night, more than 800 had signed up online as of Thursday afternoon.

"This is probably one of the largest numbers I've seen since we've implemented the system about 5 years ago," said Matthews. While he said it is good news, he is hoping the dam breach will encourage more folks to sign up for emergency notifications. Junod said he is glad he did. "It's pretty interesting. This way I can keep in touch without being here," Junod said.

Emergency management officials are urging Aiken County residents to not procrastinate registering for the mass notification system. If you are not tech savvy, you can also call the county's help line by dialing 211. Folks are there to provide instructions.

Click here to sign up for alerts.